March 09, 2017

Brattle Economists Featured in Utility Dive Article on Climate Change’s Impact on Electric Grid

Brattle Principal Judy Chang and Academic Advisor Maximilian Auffhammer were recently featured in a Utility Dive article discussing the effects of climate change on electricity demand and grid operators.

While debates on climate change arise, U.S. electricity system operators have started planning for the costs of global warming and its future effects. The article discusses how average temperatures are rising across the U.S. and that grid operators have been pressed to examine whether they have adequate capacity to meet higher power demand and sharper spikes in peak load. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, co-authored by Dr. Auffhammer, projected temperature increases will raise average electricity demand and average peak demand, which could require $120 billion to $180 billion in new natural gas peaker plants.

“The study asks what pressure that increased peak demand will put on the U.S. electric power system,” said Dr. Auffhammer. “It is not what is actually going to happen, but what the system is working against.”

To further explain climate change’s effects on grid operators, the article highlights the future plans of five transmission system operators, and discusses the concept of co-optimized planning and the use of transmission investment. According to Dr. Chang, co-optimized planning is the most cost-effective way to use transmission as insurance against the uncertainties that scenario planning reveals.

“If you co-optimize planning for both transmission and generation simultaneously, you can save a lot of cost on generation for a bit more cost for transmission,” said Dr. Chang. “And that transmission can bring a lot of benefits to the grid along with lower cost generation.”

The article, “How climate change will stress the grid and what ISOs are doing about it,” is available on the Utility Dive website.

Associated Experts
Chang for web
Judy Chang is an energy economist and policy expert with a background in electrical engineering. She has 20 years of experience in advising clients in transmission, resource, and strategic planning. More icon f02782c24cccaf6d90e1da53920c42f20e5a8955f54ac2ca5727ec7dc89987b4
Academic Advisor
Dr. Auffhammer is an Associate Professor of Agricultural and Resource Economics and the Director of the International Area Studies Academic Programs at the University of California, Berkeley. More icon f02782c24cccaf6d90e1da53920c42f20e5a8955f54ac2ca5727ec7dc89987b4